Apple Walnut Cake with Caramel Butter Frosting

apple walnut cake with caramel butter frosting
Apple Walnut Cake with Caramel Butter Frosting 

Everyone should have at least one go-to recipe that's a guaranteed smash hit. The one that makes face light up when you walk into a room carrying it on a plate. The one friends call you for. The one friends of friends call you for. This is mine. You can make it into muffins, loaves, layers, even cookies by making a few simple adjustments. And the frosting? Just between you and me, I like to make this when no one else is home, so there will be no witnesses to my disgrace. It is finger-, spoon-, pot-licking amazing.

There's no occasion this cake won't work for. You can bring it for coffee hour, for brunch, for potlucks (bring copies of the recipe ~ trust me), and of course for dessert. If you warm it a tiny bit first, just to make that frosting a little melty, and plate it with a scoop of vanilla bean or cinnamon ice cream . . . Swoon. 

Back that cake up over here!

I like to make this with walnuts or pecans, though it's just dandy with no nuts too. Throw in some dried cranberries, or don't. For apples, I like to use something tart and firm ~ Cortland, Granny Smith, Rome, even Macoun or Empire. If you're making cookies with the batter, go less on the apples or your cookies will be soft. If you're making muffins or loaves, go to town.

Apple Walnut Cake with Caramel Butter Frosting

Yield: 2 single-layer cakes or 1 large Bundt cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I replace 1 cup white flour with wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 medium baking apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
Caramel Butter Frosting
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 stick (4 oz) butter
  • ¼ cup milk, cream, or half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 to 11/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

    1. Spray two 9" cake pans with nonstick pan spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
    2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda and baking powder, spices, and salt; set aside.
    3. In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, sugars, eggs, vanilla, apples, and walnuts; stir to combine. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon or large spatula to incorporate all dry ingredients. 
    4. Transfer batter to prepared pans and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center tests clean. Remove pans to rack for 10 minutes; de-pan cakes and let cool completely before frosting or freezing.
    5. For Caramel Butter Frosting: Combine brown sugar, butter, and milk or cream in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and let cook for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool until the caramel is just slightly warm. Using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat in confectioners’ sugar ½ cup at a time until desired consistency is reached. Frost cooled cake layer(s) with a small offset spatula, swirling frosting in a smooth motion. If frosting hardens too quickly, place over low heat on stove (or in microwave for a few seconds) until it softens. If desired, add sprinkles or decorations immediately after spreading as this frosting will set up quickly. 

    Recipe Notes:
    • To make this cake in a Bundt pan, let bake a few minutes longer, until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean ~ about 45 to 50 minutes. Let sit on rack for 15 minutes before removing cake from pan and cooling completely. Prepare frosting as directed but use less confectioners' sugar to achieve a drizzling consistency. Alternatively, thin frosting with a little bit of milk or cream, or heat and drizzle over cake while the frosting is melted. 
    • This cake freezes beautifully. Make one layer to serve now and wrap the other tightly in two layers of plastic wrap and store in the freezer to serve later. 


    1. can I move in already? Please???

    2. I will be giving this recipe a try. I keep trying to find the perfect apple cake, one that doesn't require a cup of oil...I think this might be the ONE! thanks!!


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